USU alum’s documentary on California’s Proposition 8 to debut at Sundance

A controversial documentary film about gay rights in Utah by a USU broadcast journalism alumnus is slated for its world premier at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City in January. Reed Cowan’s documentary, “8: The Mormon Proposition” (, was picked Thursday for the prominent independent film festival. The movie examines the challenges of being gay and lesbian in Utah, and the role of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in passage of California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in 2008. “8:TMP follows the stories of many LGBT citizens seeking marriage equality and never-before revealed Mormon efforts to stop them,” says the film’s Web site. “When [Proposition] 8 passed,” says gay Mormon Tyler Barrick in the film, “I called my mother crying–why did the Mormons do this to us? Why would our own people do this to us?” The movie documents “the tens of millions of dollars funneled into California to fight gay marriage” and raises questions about the LDS Church’s active involvement in the Prop 8 campaign. Cowan launched the documentary project on Prop 8 during the 2008 campaign. He made state and national headlines last February when, in a videotaped interview with Cowan, conservative Utah state Sen. D. Chris Buttars compared gays to “radical Muslims” and called gays and lesbians “the greatest threat to America going down I know of.” Contacted Thursday afternoon in Florida after the 2010 Sundance Festival selections were announced, Cowan was “thrilled” about his film’s selection. Along with co-executive producer Bruce bastian, a former BYU student, Cowan is also writer and director of “8TMP,” which is narrated by Dustin Lance Baker, who won a 2009 Oscar for his film “Milk.” “This is an important film,” said the film’s creators Thursday. “Our team believes it strikes at the heart of one of our country’s highest held values–separation of church and state. “And mostly, this film is important because it honors in a very respectful and dignified way those who felt the sting of Prop. 8 and other legislation like it. This is their story. And with the invitation from Sundance, it will now be the world’s to experience.” Cowan, who grew up in the LDS Church in Roosevelt, Utah, graduated from Utah State in 1997 and worked as a TV reporter and news anchor in California, Michigan and Salt Lake City before becoming a network TV news anchor at SFLTV-7 in Miami, where he now lives. “8TMP” is Cowan’s second major documentary. His first, “The Other Side of the Lens” (2007), tells of finding himself in the news instead of covering it when he was working as a reporter for KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City. Assigned to cover a backyard accident, Cowan was horrified to find that the 4-year-old victim of a swingset strangling was his son, Wesley. Cowan responded to the tragedy by founding the Wesley Smiles Coalition, which funds schools in Africa. Cowan said Thursday that he’s on a “wild ride” since the Sundance announcement. “My phone is crazy,” he said. Film Web site: <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a> Film Trailer: <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>

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